The human body is designed to work in a systematic way like a machine and to function properly that machine requires certain fuel. Now, where do we get fuel for our bodies? Our body is dependent on what we eat. To keep our body healthy and functioning it is important to have a balanced diet that includes all sources of vitamins and minerals. Minerals are crucial for our body to function healthily. Sometimes diet is not enough to maintain the number of minerals needed in our body, so we consume supplements. There are many kinds of minerals, however, this article focuses on the importance of zinc. Now, what is zinc? And why do we consume it?
Zinc is a mineral. Due to its little requirement for a healthy body, it is called an “essential trace element”. Our body cannot store excess zinc. Therefore, the intake should be regular. Some zinc source includes red meat, poultry, and fish. Having a zinc deficiency can lead to short stature, reduced ability to taste food, and the inability of testes and ovaries to work properly. Consuming zinc regularly helps for the treatment and prevention of zinc deficiency and its consequences, including stunted growth and acute diarrhea in children, slow wound healing, and Wilson’s disease.
How Does it Works?
Our body requires certain minerals for proper growth and maintenance. Zinc is important to have a healthy body and is present in several systems and biological reactions, and it is considered necessary for immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, and much more. Foods like meats, seafood, dairy products, nuts, legumes, and whole grains have relatively high levels of zinc.
Zinc deficiency is quite common worldwide except in the US. Some of the symptoms include slowed growth, low insulin levels, loss of appetite, irritability, generalized hair loss, rough and dry skin, slow wound healing, poor sense of taste and smell, diarrhea, and nausea. Moderate zinc deficiency is linked with disorders of the intestine which interfere with food absorption (malabsorption syndromes), alcoholism, chronic kidney failure, and chronic debilitating diseases.
Zinc is important for our eyes and maintaining our visions. The presence of zinc in the body has high concentrations. Having a zinc deficiency can alter vision, and severe deficiency may result in changes in the retina (the back of the eye where an image is focused).
Zinc is also helpful in fighting against viruses, although researchers are still trying to figure out how zinc is effective in reducing the symptoms of the rhinovirus (common cold). It is also prescribed by doctors if a person is affected by covid 19.
Having a low level of zinc can be allied with male infertility, sickle cell disease, HIV, major depression, and type 2 diabetes, and can be fought by taking a zinc supplement.
What are the Uses & Effectiveness?
Zinc Deficiency – People who suffer from serious issues diarrhea, where your bowel has difficulty absorbing food, liver cirrhosis, and alcoholism, after major surgery, and long-term use of tube feeding in the hospital are affected with zinc deficiency. People who are affected with zinc deficiency should take zinc orally or giving zinc intravenously (by IV) so that it maintains the level of zinc. To avoid any complications, always consult with your doctor, especially when consumed for a long time.
Likely Effective for
- Diarrhea – If you consume zinc orally then it reduces the duration and severity of diarrhea in children who are undernourished or zinc deficient. It is common in developing countries to have stern zinc deficiency in children. A dosage of 20mg zinc is sufficient; however, doses of 5-10 mg also seem to work and cause less vomiting.
- Wilson disease is an inherited disorder that causes copper to build up in many organs. If you consume zinc orally in such conditions, then the chances of improving the symptoms get higher. People diagnosed with Wilson disease have too much copper stored in their bodies. Zinc functions by blocking the excess absorption of copper and increases the amount of copper your body releases.
Side Effects of Zinc
When taken orally: Zinc is proven to be safe for adults when consumed in a considerate amount of not more than 40mg daily. A regular intake should be avoided unless prescribed by the doctors. Some people can face effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney and stomach damage, and other side effects. It is safe to use when the dose is more than 40mg and taken orally only for a short span of time, under supervision. Having an intake of dose more than 40 can lead to a low absorption level of copper by the body which can result in anemia.
If you consume a high dose of zinc daily without any supervision then it can get unsafe resulting in fever, coughing, stomach pain, fatigue, and many other problems. Consumption of more than 100mg of zinc supplement daily for 10 years or more can double the chances of developing prostate cancer. A separate zinc supplement when combined with other multivitamins can have a fatal result from prostate cancer. Consuming 450 mg of zinc every day can lead to blood iron issues. Single doses of 10-30 grams of zinc can be fatal.
When applied to the skin: The application of zinc on an adult’s skin has no side effect, however, if zinc is applied on any cut or broken skin, it may lead to burning, stinging, itching, and tingling.
When inhaled: Inhaling zinc through the nose can result in permanent loss of smell. It is unsafe to inhale zinc. Using nose sprays containing zinc should be avoided, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Special Precautions and Warnings
- Infants and children: it is safe for infants and children to consume zinc orally with the amount prescribed by professional healthcare. Having a high dosage is unsafe and can lead to complications.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Pregnant and breastfeeding women can have zinc intake in the recommended daily amounts (RDA). However, if consumed more than what is prescribed can result in serious complications. Pregnant women over 18 should not consume more than 40 mg of zinc per day; pregnant women aged 14 to 18 should not take more than 34 mg (about the weight of a grain of rice) per day. Breast-feeding women over 18 should not take more than 40 mg of zinc per day; breastfeeding women aged 14 to 18 should not consume more than 34 mg per day.
- Alcoholism: Excessive alcohol drinking for a long time can cause poor zinc absorption in the body.
- Kidney disease: Diet is important for any source of nutrients and minerals. Having a diet with low zinc increases the risk of getting kidney disease. Also, people diagnosed with kidney disease on hemodialysis are at threat for zinc deficiency and may require zinc supplements.
- Vegetarianism: Vegetarian diet lacks high absorption of zinc, considering it a risk factor for zinc reduction in your body. However, your body adapts according to your diet plan over the long-term, becoming better at absorbing zinc and reducing zinc loss.
What impact does zinc have on interaction with other medications?
Be cautious with this combination
- Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics) interacts with ZINC
Zinc can attach to tetracyclines in the stomach leading to a decrease in the number of tetracyclines that can be absorbed. Consuming zinc with tetracyclines may lessen the efficiency of tetracyclines. This interaction can be avoided by taking zinc 2 hours prior to or 4 hours after the intake of tetracyclines.
Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).
- Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics) interact with ZINC
Consuming zinc with any other antibiotics may diminish the effectiveness of certain antibiotics as it lessens the absorption level of antibiotics by our body. This situation should be avoided by taking zinc supplements at least 1 hour after antibiotics.
Some of these antibiotics that might interact with zinc include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), trovafloxacin (Trovan), and grepafloxacin (Raxar).
- Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) interacts with ZINC
Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) is used in the treatment of cancer. Taking zinc along with EDTA and cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) can lead to an increase in the effects and side effects of cisplatin (Platinol-AQ).
- Penicillamine interacts with ZINC
Penicillamine is used for Wilson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Zinc might decrease how much penicillamine your body absorbs and decrease the effectiveness of penicillamine.
Be vigilant with this combination
- Amiloride (Midamor) interacts with ZINC
Amiloride (Midamor) is used as a “water pill” to assist in removing excess water from the body. Another effect of amiloride (Midamor) is that it can increase the amount of zinc in the body. Consuming zinc supplements with amiloride (Midamor) may result in an excess amount of zinc in your body which can be fatal.
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